In 2015, EDGE Engineering & Science, LLC was chosen as a third-party contractor by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and subsequently contracted by a natural gas transmission client, to prepare an Environmental Assessment (EA) for 37 miles of new pipeline, two new compressor stations, and associated aboveground facilities in West Virginia and Ohio. The project provided natural gas to the existing Rockies Express Pipeline and Texas Eastern Transmission pipeline systems from the Central Appalachian Basin.
Once the EA was successfully completed, the FERC Project Manager further requested that the project sponsor extend EDGE’s contract to assist with the review of the construction implementation plan. EDGE was also asked to assist with the reviews and approvals of notices to proceed (NTP) with construction and construction variances. At the time, FERC staff was experiencing a larger than normal workload and EDGE’s ability to continue to assist the FERC was instrumental in keeping the project on schedule.
Construction of pipeline infrastructure, especially in the Midwest and Northeast, presents its own set of unique time restriction challenges. These challenges are largely due to migratory patterns of certain birds protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. The act protects over 1,000 bird species and their habitats. The project sponsor needed to clear the forested portions of the pipeline right-of-way, to reduce impacts on bird species, by the targeted date. If it didn’t, the company would either have to wait another year or try to receive a waiver from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service to move forward with the project.
The endangered Indiana Bat also provided a challenge. The Indiana Bat is protected under the Endangered Species Act which protects endangered and threatened species along with their critical habitats. The team needed to prove that the project would not adversely affect the bat’s summer migration to wooded areas.
Several of EDGE’s team members spearheaded the project, using their combined decades of extensive experience on FERC energy-related projects.
Since EDGE was already familiar with the issues surrounding the project, the team was able to assist the FERC staff with reviews, processing of NTPs and construction variances in a timely manner that avoided construction delays.
EDGE’s deep knowledge of the issues and complexities of the project, along with their keen understanding of construction needs related to the protection of migratory birds, gave EDGE the upper hand in working cooperatively with both the FERC and the client to keep the project on track and on time.
Given the successful completion of the project, EDGE has been contracted once again to assist the same natural gas client with the completion of the next phase of the project.
The project’s original FERC Project Manager retired at the end of 2016, presenting EDGE with a new opportunity: Helping to transition the new FERC staff, who did not have prior knowledge of the project or specific issues, so they can process NTPs and variance requests.
EDGE has since risen to the challenge and is excited to announce they are paving the way toward project completion.
“Completion of the environmental review for this project led to a quick and efficient review of the implementation plan, and later variance requests, given that we already understood the environmental constraints and considerations, and could also draw on the mitigation that the applicant had committed to during the environmental review process” said Jenny McCoy, EDGE Project Manager.